his month the RPG Blog carnival is being hosted by Pitfalls & Pixies and is all about the Faerie Realm! When I found out about the topic, I wasn’t sure what I could write about. I tossed around the idea of what Fae/Fey/Faerie realms are all about. These were the places where the real and the unreal merged. Places where nature and magic were one. That theme holds over in things like D&D where the Feywild is at once both nature-incarnate and arcane power to the extreme. But then I was watching TV the other day, and realized I knew exactly what to write about.
Ok, it sounds odd at first, but follow me. Running with my initial idea, the Fae represent something special to us humans in the real world. It is the place where things are intimately connected with nature and things we know incredibly well. However, they are creatures that are so alien to us in mindset it is dangerous to even talk to them. Archfey, especially, are whimsical creatures. Not just by the traditional definition, but because they literally will do things, anything, on a whim.
What makes Archfey dangerous is that the concepts of good and evil are virtually non-existent. They are not concepts any type of fey can be grouped up in. Even where they are classified into the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, there is ever-present danger. The only thing you can say is that Seelie fey look more fondly upon mortals, while Unseelie fey are more malicious. Sitting in the same room with either type still has a relatively high chance of death.
I was speaking on Twitter with some folks about Archfey and here’s a free plot for you. We talked about a bored evil Archfey. Someone, or something, so ancient and strange that trying out being good sounds like a great change of pace. Let’s be honest though, this could be more dangerous than it is advantageous. Or what about the Archfey who find the adventurers and turns them into cute puppies just to watch what they do. Or the one who turns them into statues to decorate the night’s dinner party?
These are Lovecraftian fears from before we worried about being important parts of the universe. Things we don’t understand. Things beyond us and our capabilities. They are utterly alien in thought process, but grounded in something we have always worshiped: nature. And look back at that last sentence. They are utterly ALIEN. Here’s where we can make the leap to Star Trek.
Today, many people have stopped believing in magic. Faerie realms are the stuff of children’s stories. We are people of science, math, and observation. Or maybe we have, subconsciously, realized that magic is just that which we cannot explain. Frankly, despite all the math and predictions we can ascribe to physics (especially big physics), it feels like magic. A chemist is like a magician who can create heat, light, poison gas, and healing potions. Just think of A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court. It proves this thought process. To me the knowledge of math does not make it any less magical.
Enter science fiction. When things are no longer magical (to society’s mindset) they are “future science”, theoretical possibilities that we haven’t hit yet because we haven’t figured it out yet. But it does more than that and Star Trek is the ultimate example of it. The whole setting is set up with ideas that (for their times) were anywhere from the near future to the distant, but still almost guaranteed, future. Cell phones anyone? Those were all set dressing. The glory of Star Trek is what we do with it (explore) and what even greater things we could discover.
With Star Trek we come full circle back to our old faerie tales, we just use the word science instead of magic. It is a franchise that proves the tales we tell, and can make at the table, are timeless. No matter what we call it there is magic out there, all around us, waiting to be explored. Some of the best of those stories involve Archfey or, in Star Trek’s case, incredibly odd alien lifeforms.
One of the very first episodes I ever watched was “Rendezvous At Farpoint Station”, not even knowing it was the first episode of Next Generation. I always loved that episode, for everything it was and everything it represents in what Star Trek is at heart. Most of all though, I love the interaction between the adventurers and the Archfey. Yep that’s right. Did I mention they even visit a fae realm too?
Q is the epitome of science fiction Archfey. He is an evil (only in the most mechanical and traditional sense) and very, very, very bored Archfey. A member of the Q Continuum, he is literally a boarderline Unseelie lord within the Seelie Court. While the Continuum does little to help Enterprise, they do punish Q. Eventually. In one episode he gives Riker his power as a test, experiment, and entertainment. Sounds like something a Fae Lord would do to me. The Star Trek universe is full of plot hooks and fae … excuse me, alien….creatures. Don’t let that resource elude you!
So where am I going with this? One: I wanted to mention what fae are, to u,s as people and how that can be important in game. Two: I wanted to share my revelation that the classic version of fae isn’t the only one and Q is the prime example. Finally, I wanted to remind you all what this means. It is proof that what make up our stories is timeless. They are things we cannot simply describe, but also cannot live. Only through the creation and telling of such tales can we explore the far limits and possibilities of life. Look for the underlying pieces of things you watch or read. Star Trek could easily have taken place in a fantasy world dominated by a vast ocean full of strange islands. Your favorite fantasy stories could easily translate into science fiction games. Keep this lesson with you and share the interesting connections you have seen!